Juan Román Riquelme, playing for Argentina at the 2006 World Cup.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
One of the greatest Argentinian playmakers. A true number 10. When Juan Román Riquelme was on song there was literally no better sight in football, the way he linked and stitched play together with his passing and touches was just a joy to behold.
Riquelme had excellent footwork and ball technique, but it's his passing, vision and creativity for which he was renowned. His ability to dictate the tempo of play was second to none - a rare attribute even amongst the most highly gifted of footballers. Riquelme was a genuine football conductor - orchestrating moves, probing away with clever little passes, noticing angles and openings for his team-mates that other players couldn't.
A Boca Juniors legend, with seven-year stints at both the start and end of his career, Riquelme won every trophy going at La Bombonera, including four Argentinian league titles, three Copa Libertadores and an Intercontinental Cup. He was also named South American Footballer of the Year in 2001 during his first spell with La Boca.
In between his two stints with the Buenos Aires giants, Riquelme had an unsuccessful spell at Barcelona, where his new coach, Louis Van Gaal, seemed loathe to play him, and when he did it was often out of position on the wing. When Barcelona signed Ronaldinho in 2003 it meant they exceeded the maximum number of foreign players, so Riquelme moved to Villarreal on a two-year loan deal. His time with El Submarino Amarillo proved much more successful than his short spell at the Nou Camp, Riquelme not only topping the assist charts but also achieving his highest goalscoring rate as he inspired Villareal to third place - their highest ever La Liga position. Villareal made the loan deal permanent and they continued to be a surprise package - even reaching the Champions League semi-final in 2006.
Riquelme returned to Boca Juniors in 2007 and his impressive form continued - winning the Argentinian Footballer of the Year award twice more in 2008 and 2011. He eventually finished his career in 2014 at the club where he'd started out in the youth team back in 1992 - Argentinos Juniors.